Wandering Into Wisdom

This blog chronicles the knowledge, insight and wisdom I encounter every day as a leadership consultant, executive coach, educator, father, friend and citizen. This site is dedicated to my father, Louis (Jack) Laughlin, who passed on to me an appreciation for wisdom. A special thanks to my friend Isaac Cheifetz, a businessman and journalist, who helped me understand the value of blogs and encouraged me to write one.

Pleased to Meet You*

Whenever I travel to a foreign country where I don’t speak the language I make sure I at least know how to say a simple greeting, please and thank you. I decided to stick with more formal greetings when it occurred to me that using more colloquial greetings might make me sound like I was saying “howdy partner” in a thick foreign accent. In addition, I found that a well pronounced informal greeting signals that you speak the language, followed immediately by their unintelligible response and your blank look.

Out With The New, In With The Old*

As we search for green alternatives that use less energy and generate less waste we can look to existing technologies. When we lived in Mexico we discovered that the secret to good Mexican style beans is pressure cooking. Anyone who has cooked a pot of beans knows that it’s an all day affair to simmer them until they’re tender. A pressure cooker reduces cooking time, uses less energy and retains more of the food’s flavor and nutrients. After an overnight soaking it only takes about a half hour to cook beans in a pressure cooker.


I recently watched a documentary on the rise of Julius Caesar. Rome was a republic before he took power but politics had become partisan to the point of violence in the streets. Although Caesar was murdered shortly after establishing himself as emperor his death did not bring back the republic. That was destroyed by politicians who were so focused on fighting each other for power they had become an impediment to the advancement of Roman civilization.


My wife and I walked to the local McDonalds for an ice cream where we were served by an Asian teenager who must have recently arrived in the United States. After he struggled to make change for us I asked him where he was from. He smiled nervously and said Thailand. When I greeted him in Thai a huge grin come across his face. I have travelled to many places in the world and have always found that a simple greeting and thank you in the local language opens many hearts and doors.


My wife and I were watching the new television show produced by Ron Howard called Parenthood. We spent most of the time with our faces in our hands groaning at the realism of tensions portrayed. It struck me that we related more to this fictional show than any of the “reality” shows I’ve seen. Reality shows seem to select people with personalities just shy of a diagnosable mental health disorder and put them in contrived situations that no one in their right mind would ever enter.


I was at the YMCA recently where I struck up a conversation with a Russian gentleman. After a while the conversation worked its way to politics. He stated emphatically that the goal of communism is for everyone to be happy. He reminded me of Khrushchev the way he pumped his fist up and down. When I asked him if he thought all Russians are happy he shrugged, turned his palms up, cocked his head to the side, grinned and said, “No, of course not.” It struck me that it is the nature of ideology to be idealistic. We seemed to have an unspoken understanding that this would not get between us. I hope to see him again. He’s delightful.

Not So Easy*

“Most of what has been worth doing since the beginning of time has been accomplished by people who were tired, self-doubting, ambivalent, and more than a little discouraged.”
From "Jobshift" by William Bridges